Maui News

Three Hikers Airlifted, Stranded by High Water at “Commando Trail”

September 15, 2015, 12:46 AM HST
* Updated September 15, 1:15 AM
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Mountain rescue. Graphics by Wendy Osher.

Mountain rescue. Graphics by Wendy Osher.

Three hikers were airlifted from the area often referred to as the “Commando Trail” in the Kailua area of East Maui on Monday, after they became stranded by high water.

Fire officials say a 27-year-old Makawao man was hiking with friends from out of town, a 32-year-old man and 38-year-old woman from Laguna Beach, California when the incident was reported at 1:54 p.m. on Monday, Sept. 14, 2015.

Maui Fire Services Officer Edward Taomoto said the hikers were two miles up the trail and on their way back when they became trapped by high water at the area known as the “lava tube.”

“In that part of the trail, the only way out is to walk through an irrigation tunnel,” said FSO Taomoto. “Stream water was very high and moving too swiftly through the tunnel so they called emergency dispatchers for help,” he said.

Firefighters from Pāʻia, along with the department’s Air 1 helicopter and a Kahului rescue crew arrived around 2:30 p.m. A crew aboard the Air 1 helicopter located the hikers and airlifted them to a landing zone set up in a pasture near the trail head.

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Officials say all three hikers were uninjured.

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The area has been the subject of recent rescues and search efforts.  Just three weeks ago, on Aug. 25, 2015, firefighters rescued 16 people from trails in the Kailua area after they became trapped by swollen stream waters.

On May 5, 2015, seven hikers spent the night at Kailua after becoming trapped by rising stream levels, and losing cell service.  The group was found in the same “lava tube” area, and each hiker was airlifted to safety in the morning.

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